Benjamin IngrahamListening Essay12/1/17Pr. GwinWhen thinking about a topic forthis paper, I realized that we all go through our daily lives having lots ofconversations with friends, co-workers, and our family members. Unfortunately,most of the time we don’t listen as well as we could or even should at times. Weseem often distracted by our environment, with things such as TV, the Internet,or our phones. I believe that we are listening so-to-speak, but we aren’t givingthem our full attention.
Hence my topic for this paper, a skill called activelistening. When thinking about what active listening actually is, we see thatit’s all about building understanding and trust of the listener. As I present theskills I have learned below in this essay, one should be able to become abetter listener and actually hear whatthe other person is saying when engaging in conversation — or rather hearingnot just what you think they are saying or what you want to hear from what theyin fact are saying in the end. Weoften treat communication as if it were a race. It’s almost like our goal is tohave no time gaps between the conclusion of the sentence of the person we arespeaking with and the beginning of our own. If you think about it, you’llnotice that it takes an enormous amount of energy and is very stressful to besitting at the edge of your seat trying to guess what the person in front ofyou is going to say so that you can fire back your response.
But as you waitfor the people you are communicating with to finish, as you simply listen moreintently to what is being said, you’ll notice that the pressure you feel isoff. EffectiveListening It is difficult to define listening, but generally it can be definedas a receiver orientation to the communication process since communicationinvolves both a source and a receiver, listening consist of the roles receiversplay in the communication process. Listening is a process that includes hearing,attending to, understanding, evaluating and responding to spoken messages. Ourown listening habits have been developed since we were born. Such habits are sowell established that we perform them without thinking. But unfortunately, suchhabits are usually undesirable and lead to poor listening. There are numbers ofreasons for ineffective listening. These do not apply equally to all listenersand the degree to which they do apply will vary from different situation,speaker, topic and so forth.
They represent common and important reasons forineffective listening Rehearsing Your whole attention is designing andpreparing what to say next.Asa student, and veteran, I have come to understand that listening is truly alearnable skill. Unfortunately, it is not typically taught along with othercommunication skills at home or in school. I spend more time listening thanusing any other form of communication, yet as a youngster I was never taughtthe skill.
I spent long hours learning to read and write and even had classroomtraining in public speaking, but I never had a lesson in listening or thoughtof listening as a learnable skill until I entered the world of mediation as anadult. While some may have had better experiences during their formative years,for many listening is often treated the same as “hearing.” We do notordinarily receive instruction in using our other senses — smell, sight, touchand taste — so why give lessons in hearing? A message that listening was animportant skill to learn would have fallen on deaf ears when I was a child.Perhaps now that peer mediation is being taught in many classrooms across thenation, when children are taught to “Listen to your elders,” theyalso will be taught by elders who model good listening skills.Not all listening is the same Passivelistening is little more than hearing.
Passive listening is listening withoutreacting: allowing someone to speak, without interrupting. Not doing anythingelse at the same time, and yet not really paying attention to what’s beingsaid. Passive listening is one-way communication where the receiver doesn’tprovide feedback or ask questions and may or may not understand the sender’smessage. Active listening includes responses thatdemonstrate that you understand what the other person is trying to tell youabout his or her experience. This is a communication technique that’s verydifferent from the passive or unfocused listening that we often adopt ineveryday conversation. When you accurately reflect back toa person what’s been said, you show that you’ve been listening—not justhearing—and that you genuinely understand the feeling/s or message/s they aretrying to convey. This creates an environment that allows the speaker to godeeper, and sometimes even to come to new realizations.
It’s the basis fortrust and respect.Thereasons for ineffective listening are so obvious that they are sometimesoverlooked. First, listening is mistakenly equated with hearing and since mostof us can hear, no academic priority is given to this subject in college.Second, we perceive power in speech. We put a value on those who have the giftof gab. How often have you heard the compliment, He/she can talk to anyone?Additionally, we equate speaking with controlling both the conversation and thesituation. The third and last reason we don’t listen, is that we are in an earof information overload. We are bombarded with the relevant and the irrelevantand it is easy to confuse them.
Often it is all just so much noise.Whena person is talking to you, nod your head or acknowledge by saying somethingthat tells the person that you understand them and that you know what he/shewants you to do. You need to maintain a relaxed body posture and also face theperson that you are conversing with. This tell the person that you are talkingto that he/she has your full and undivided attention. Also, you need to makeeye contact with the speaker. This is another way to show that you are payingattention to them. If you fail to make eye contact you may give the speaker theimpression that you are not interested in what they are saying.
Lastly, youshould focus on the speaker and what they are saying. This is the mostimportant thing you can do. You can listen but if you aren’t focused on thespeaker, you won’t get all of the information.There are many barriers tolistening that can cause the communication process to be ineffective and thesecan be broken into two groups: external and internal. The external barriersinclude such things as a noisy environment and hearing impairment.
Thesebarriers are beyond the control of the listener; he is unable to overcome them.On the other hand, internal barriers such as mental noise, negative mindsettowards the speaker, and stereotyping; are all within the power of the listenerto improve by practicing proper listening skills. These obstacles impede theflow of information to the listener who does not receive the subtleties of theintended message. An example of this would be if one has a negative presetopinion of a speaker, one will not give the speaker his full attention and willtherefore miss out on the valuable points that were made, and this thereforeresults in miscommunication.Listening aids human beings notonly in the quest to share their message but it also contributes to theimprovement and growth of communication skills. We are born with the ability tohear but not to listen.
Listening is not a natural gift but we can work towardsimproving it. It is shown that most people listen ineffectively and they do notfully understand what is conveyed to them on a daily basis. This lack ofeffective listening leads to misunderstanding, confusion and finally conflictamong persons. If sufficient effort is made to improve it, one’s listening willeventually become effective. Once this is achieved, the human communicationprocess can function successfully.I get it, we all do; you’ve gotenough on your plate. There’s always a deadline, and there’s always somewhereyou need to be. It can be hard to genuinely pay attention, especially whenyou’ve got a long to-do list that’s occupying your mental energy.
But as we’vementioned, active listening doesn’t just benefit your conversationalcounterpart — you also stand to gain from it. From making sure you don’t missimportant details, to exercising focus for any important task, putting thesephrases into practice can help you become a proactive, empathetic listener.Becoming an effective communicator is a dynamic process and lifetime pursuit.
There is much, much more to active listening and to the many other skills thatwill help you provide excellent care to potential donor families and tocommunicate effectively with your team members. Active listening builds strongrelationships and, while it may not come naturally to many of us, it’s aninvaluable communication skill. Becoming an excellent listener will takedetermination and practice and it will be well worth it in both yourprofessional and personal life.